Promoting intention to receive the seasonal influenza vaccination: An approach based on Protection Motivation Theory

Ling, M. (Deakin University), Kothe, E. J. (Deakin University), Mullan, B. A. (Curtin University)

Background: Vaccination is the most effective way to reduce infection and serious complications from influenza. Despite this, vaccination rates are sub-optimal. This project used Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) to evaluate the impact of short theory-based messages on intention to receive the seasonal influenza vaccine. Secondarily, we investigated the extent to which messages designed to target specific PMT constructs were successful in changing those constructs. Methods: Participants (n=3830) were recruited via Amazon MTurk and randomised to receive one of six intervention messages or to a no message control group. Each targeted a single PMT construct. We hypothesised that messages would increase intention to be vaccinated relative to control and that messages targeting a given PMT construct would increase/decrease that construct relative to control. Results: Severity message participants reported significantly higher perceived severity of the flu than control (p = .005). However, messages were not effective at increasing intention to vaccinate relative to control (p’s <.05). Conclusions: Overall, PMT-based messages did not increase intention to vaccinate. However it is unclear whether this reflects a broader failure of the PMT or simply the difficulty of designing messages to change vaccination-related beliefs. Future investigation is required to clarify these findings.

Twitter: @lingtax

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Environment and Health